New Caledonia unrest continues as police shoot dead man – latest updates

Key events

AFP reports that in the Montravel district of Noumea in New Caledonia, activists were waiting for further instructions from the FLNKS, a pro-independence party.

“We’re ready to continue protesting because apparently the president of the Republic doesn’t want to listen to us,” said one activist, identifying himself by his first name only, Yamel.

Separatists have thrown up barricades that have cut off whole neighbourhoods.

The international airport will remain closed to commercial flights until at least 9 am on Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday), Charles Roger, director of New Caledonia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry which operates La Tontouta International Airport, told AFP.

‘Unacceptable’: Borrell says Europe expects explanation from Russia on border incident

The EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said Europe is expecting an explanation from Russia about an incident on the border with Estonia.

“On Thursday early morning, Russian border guards unilaterally removed light buoys placed by Estonia on the Narva River to demarcate the border with Russia,” he said, adding that “the European Union has been monitoring the situation closely from the start in cooperation and solidarity with Estonia and other Member States”

“This border incident is part of a broader pattern of provocative behaviour and hybrid actions by Russia, including on its maritime and land borders in the Baltic Sea region,” Borrell noted.

“Such actions are unacceptable. The European Union expects an explanation by Russia about the removal of the buoys, and their immediate return,” he stressed.

Police officer detained in New Caledonia

A police officer has been taken into custody after shooting and killing a man, the French prosecutor for New Caledonia said today, the Associated Press reported.

The officer is believed to have fired one shot, killing a 48-year-old man.

A statement from the prosecutor said the officer and a colleague were driving in an area north of the capital, Nouméa, on Friday afternoon when they “were physically attacked by a group of around 15 individuals.”

The prosecutor said he has opened a voluntary homicide investigation into the shooting — a customary step for French officers in such cases.

The officer is in custody for questioning.

Why is there unrest in New Caledonia?

After France’s colonisation in the 19th century, New Caledonia officially became a French overseas territory in 1946. Starting in the 1970s, after a nickel boom that drew outsiders, tensions rose on the island, with various conflicts between Paris and Kanak independence movements.

A 1998 Nouméa accord helped end the conflict by outlining a path to gradual autonomy and restricting voting to the Kanak and migrants living in New Caledonia before 1998. The accord allowed for three referendums to determine the future of the country. In all three, independence was rejected.

Under the terms of the Nouméa accord, voting in provincial elections was restricted to people who had resided in New Caledonia before 1998, and their children. The measure was aimed at giving greater representation to the Kanaks, who had become a minority population.

Paris has come to view the arrangement as undemocratic, and lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment to open up the electorate to include people who have lived in New Caledonia for at least 10 years.

Read the full explainer here.

Police shoot dead man in New Caledonia

Police shot dead a 48-year-old man in New Caledonia today, a day after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, visited the island, Reuters reported.

The police officer used his gun as he and a colleague were attacked by a group of around 15 people, NC La 1ere broadcaster quoted the prosecutor’s office as saying.

The shooting brings the death toll in New Caledonia to seven in 12 days of upheaval.

Deadly violence has paralysed New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific, after lawmakers in Paris approved a constitutional amendment to allow recent arrivals to the territory to vote in provincial elections.

Indigenous Kanak people, who make up about 41% of the population, have responded with anger to the constitutional changes. Local leaders fear it will dilute the Kanak vote and undermine longstanding efforts to secure independence.

France has sent in thousands of extra police forces. Earlier today authorities had said the situation was “relatively calm,” Reuters reported.

A roadblock is pictured during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in Noumea, France’s Pacific territory of New Caledonia on May 23. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/Reuters

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